Priest positive for Ebola after praying with dying patient in Congo

Congo health authorities have quarantined a Catholic priest after he turned up positive for the Ebola virus.

(Reuters/Tommy Trenchard)Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) put on their protective gear before entering an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre.

The unnamed priest, who services the diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, reportedly prayed with a dying infected patient when he contacted the virus. Allegedly, some Ebola patients in the eastern town, which has a population of over one million, escaped the hospital to go to the church with their families.

Coadjutor Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu confirmed that he personally visited the priest and also saw the other patients. He told the Catholic News Agency that the priest been "responding well to the treatments."

The Ebola virus results in hemorrhagic fever. It's highly contagious through contact and bodily fluids, where at least 90 percent of cases are fatal.

The latest outbreak first struck Mbandaka in the early days of May. Since May 24, however, 27 people have died while 28 patients have been quarantined for treatments. At least 21 to 23 cases, on the other hand, are still being probed for the infection.

The Catholic diocese said that the health crisis in the region is raising deep worries and concern.

"Given the nature of the disease and the lack of information, the risk of spreading in a city of 1.2 million inhabitants and in neighboring cities is to be feared," Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani said in a statement to the Catholic News Agency.

The World Health Organization echoed the worries of Tapa, as the chances of Ebola's spread in other parts of Congo have been classified as "very high."

In efforts to contain the virus, health authorities have distributed vaccines to at least 600 people. Priority was given to hospital staff and people working closely with Ebola patients.

Congo's President Joseph Kabila also recently approved the release of $4 million in government funds. Charity agencies and other religious relief services have also been making the rounds to provide medical aid and boost information drive to educate the people on this crisis.